One dead, dozens injured in French protests over fuel prices

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PARIS: More than 400 people were hurt, 14 seriously, in a day and night of "yellow vest" fuel price protests around France that claimed one life, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Sunday.

One protester died in a road accident in Pont-de-Beauvoisin in the southeastern region of Savoie when a panicked female driver ran over a woman after protesters surrounded her auto and starting banging on the hood.

Police said three of the injured are in serious condition.

The protest over rising fuel taxes is a new challenge to embattled President Emmanuel Macron.

Officials say 24 people have been arrested and 17 held for questioning.

He also said more tax on fossil fuels was needed to fund renewable energy investments.

Protesters remain at about 150 sites on Sunday, BFMTV reported. A police officer and a firefighter who intervened when protesters attacked a closed service station were among the eight.

According to an opinion poll last week, 73 percent of respondents backed the "yellow vests" movement, a much higher figure than in other protests since Macron was elected on a reformist platform past year.

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The woman died after being hit by a vehicle in the eastern Savoie region, according to an official.

Hundreds of protesters took over the Place de la Concorde at the bottom of the avenue, shouting "Macron resign" as police looked on.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, standing firm against a wave of grassroots protests, said Sunday that fuel tax hikes would remain in place despite nationwide agitation.

The daughter of the woman killed called for calm as she protested in Cavaillon, in southern France.

They targeted tollbooths, roundabouts and the bypass that rings Paris on Saturday.

The protesters are nicknamed "yellow vests" for the high-visibility jackets they wear.

Prices have eased this month, although protestors on Saturday had other complaints too, as Macron's next test at the ballot box in European parliamentary elections in May 2019 looms. French Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said the tax on diesel will increase by 6.5 cents per liter in January 2019, while the tax on gasoline is set to increase by 2.9 cents. But beyond the diesel issue, many turned out Saturday to voice any number of other frustrations with the "president for the rich", who is seen as increasingly removed from ordinary people's concerns.